How to Use Storytelling + Technology to Showcase Your Nonprofit’s Work

How to Use Storytelling + Technology to Showcase Your Nonprofit’s Work

By Shannon Ritchie, AJ Fletcher Foundation, & Dawn Crawford, BC/DC Ideas

Nonprofits have amazing outcomes to share.

  • “5,000 more meals served!”
  • “150% more kittens saved!”
  • “12 fewer trees cut down due to innovative recycling measures!”

Through digital tools, nonprofits can share these success stories with panache. The most exciting part of sharing your stories online versus in print is the ability for the content to live on past your latest batch of documents. The possibility for a digital report to reach more people goes far beyond who you ever could with a traditional, printed annual report. With more and more donors using mobile technology, it’s important for nonprofits to be ready.

CaptureThe AJ Fletcher Foundation (AJF) recently launched an entirely digital annual report, an innovative blend of storytelling and technology to highlight grantee stories – http://ajf.org/2013annualreport/. The project was created in collaboration with the BC/DC Ideas team.

This project is a great learning tool for nonprofits, regardless of their budget. “We strived to create an annual report that used modern web technology with a small budget, and we’re very pleased with the results,” said Shannon Ritchie, Director of Digital + Innovation at AJF. “We wanted our yearly report to serve as a conversation starter, rather than desk decoration.”

It can seem daunting for nonprofits to use web engagement strategies for storytelling and sharing impacts, but it doesn’t have to be expensive, it just needs to be smart. The techniques used by the AJF project, incorporating technology and innovative design, can be applied to annual reports, social sharing, websites and more.

Here are some ways that nonprofits of any size can start using digital tools to tell their story online:

  • Use infographic web applications to visualize your data – The AJF annual report uses simple infographics and subtle animations to quickly tell the story of real impacts made in the past year. Nonprofits can tap into easy-to-use online programs to build great visuals with your impact stories. Try a few of these:
  • Play around with “parallax” website templates in WordPress – The AJF annual report uses innovative parallax web development technology. This new website technology plus an innovative scrolling content-aware navigation on the left side takes visitors on a journey through the story allowing the reader to browse through each grantee story or jump to the impact areas that mean the most to them. With a little bit of time and basic website knowledge, any nonprofit can use a WordPress template with some of these features built right in. Start your hunt for a new theme on these sites:
  • Use hashtags and social sharing features to start a conversation – Creating a digital annual report allowed AJF to create a space for conversation on social media with hashtags and easy sharing features. Nonprofits can create a simple hashtag around a program, research or event, and curate the conversation.

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About The AJ Fletcher Foundation – The mission of Fletcher Foundation is to support nonprofit organizations in their endeavors to enrich the lives and well-being of people in North Carolina. To achieve this, AJF partners with nonprofit organizations that recognize and solve social and civic problems, and provides resources to advance big, bold ideas. Learn more at http://ajf.org/.

About BC/DC Ideas – BC/DC Ideas is an independent, full-service agency that specializes in creating meaningful communications that makes a difference. Working exclusively with nonprofits, we bring our passion for storytelling, design, fundraising and sound strategy to help our clients achieve greater impact. Our team draws on extensive experience in nonprofit and corporate communications, marketing and advertising, and our greatest joy is working with clients who want to change the world. Learn more at http://BCDCIdeas.com.

Kate Runy

CONTENT & MEDIA SPECIALIST

A passionate technical wizard, Kate thrives on managing online content, social media for communications, and development projects.  Kate is the workhorse of the team, pulling out amazing feats of content creation and management week in and week out. 

Prior to joining BC/DC Ideas, Kate coordinated website and social media content, communications, and advertising for Go Global NC and Alzheimer’s NC.

Things that make her happy: I love animals about as much as I love working for nonprofits.

Mishel Gomez Cespedes

CONTENT COORDINATOR

Mishel brings a passion for video storytelling and quippy social media content to the team.  At BC/DC Ideas, she is most likely editing video or scheduling the next moving social media post for our clients.

Her ear for storytelling is her greatest asset. Mishel has a unique ability to assemble content into a concise story that moves audiences to action.

A graduate of Wake Forest University she spent a semester in Spain and years serving her community through the campus organizations. Now, she is putting her passion for good to work.

Brian Crawford

creative director

Mix equal parts nerd and creativity and that’s Brian. A natural problem-solver, Brian’s ability to cut to the core of any problem helps guide our creative team to the correct solution without wasted time or money. It’s the core, this little nugget of truth, that helps our clients take the next step with their audiences.

Brian gets the greatest joy out of helping our clients realize and connect with their story. He is a true believer that everyone and every organization has a compelling story to tell, you just have to listen with an open heart.

Things that make him happy: Hanging out at the park with family, toddler-speak, hitting the focus pull, and good coffee.

Dawn Crawford

principal

The engine behind BC/DC Ideas, Dawn has dedicated her career to good. Dawn brings her considerable experience and expertise to helping elevate the nonprofit sector. Our team’s lead strategist, Dawn is often seen leading our IdeaStorms, penning communications plans, or checking in with clients.

Before launching BC/DC Ideas in 2010, she earned her chops in 10+ years of communications leadership roles for public health, healthcare and youth-focused nonprofits. Working for nonprofits is Dawn’s dream job, and she loves that her 40+ hours a week make the world a better place.

Things that make her happy: A glass of champagne to celebrate big wins, Basecamp, living in the South, seeing the world, and a well-formatted spreadsheet.